pri·​or·​i·​ty | \prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē, -ˈär-\
plural priorities

Definition of priority 

1a(1) : the quality or state of being prior

(2) : precedence in date or position of publication used of taxa

b(1) : superiority in rank, position, or privilege

(2) : legal precedence in exercise of rights over the same subject matter

2 : a preferential rating especially : one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply that project has top priority

3 : something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives

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Synonyms for priority


precedence, right-of-way

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Examples of priority in a Sentence

Reorganizing the sales force will be a top priority for the new president. Getting the work done on time is a priority for me. She decided to go to the party instead of studying? Where are her priorities? I know you want to buy a new stereo, but right now, saving for college has to take priority.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Distinctive areas devoted to certain cooking tasks, plus dedicated space for the mingling, are priorities to Porowski. Vogue, "Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski on his Dream Kitchen—And Why Ample Counter Space, a Massive Butcher Block, and “the Biggest Fridge Ever” Are Musts," 9 Nov. 2018 The senior State Department official said the administration is giving priority to certain regions. Courtney Mcbride, WSJ, "U.S. Weapons Transfers, Pushed by Trump, Rise by 13%," 8 Nov. 2018 First, the constitutional amendments would take priority, leaving Proposition C in the dark if all three initiatives pass. German Lopez, Vox, "The midterm elections will give some voters a chance to legalize marijuana," 6 Nov. 2018 And women weren't really given a priority [in] leadership. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Elly Kaaya Is Fighting for Education Equity as Part of Michelle Obama's Global Girls Alliance," 29 Oct. 2018 The new National Academy of Sciences report feeds into a decadal priority-setting system in the astronomy community that guides NASA's long-term strategy. Meghan Bartels,, "To Find Alien Life, NASA Needs Bigger, Bolder Exoplanet-Hunting Telescopes," 5 Sep. 2018 Lala's highest priority is her 11-year-old son with pro-basketball player and estranged husband Carmelo Anthony, Kiyan. Alexis Jones, Redbook, "Lala Anthony Talks Motherhood, Activism, and the Beauty Products She Can't Live Without," 8 Aug. 2018 The governor issued a number of other vetoes, including removing a provision put in the budget that would give priority for foster parents to adopt children away from their biological parents after nine months. Washington Post, "GOP governor cuts health care to take anti-abortion stand," 6 July 2018 The technology foundation has made a commitment to give East Side residents a priority in hiring for the project, Harig said. Richard Webner, San Antonio Express-News, "Foundation, developer may rehab East Side’s historic Sutton complex," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'priority.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of priority

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

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Statistics for priority

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for priority

The first known use of priority was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for priority



English Language Learners Definition of priority

: something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first

priorities : the things that someone cares about and thinks are important

: the condition of being more important than something or someone else and therefore coming or being dealt with first


pri·​or·​i·​ty | \prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē \
plural priorities

Kids Definition of priority

: a condition of being more important than other things


pri·​or·​i·​ty | \prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē \
plural priorities

Legal Definition of priority 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: precedence in exercise of rights in the same subject matter secured interests have priority over unsecured ones



Legal Definition of priority (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having precedence over another in the exercise of rights in the same subject matter a priority creditor a priority claim

2 : of or relating to priority a priority contest

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Comments on priority

What made you want to look up priority? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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